The McLaren F1 team admitted that they laid too much emphasis on the 2017 car’s design. So, they have decided to avoid a “peaky” 2018 design and focus on making the handling user-friendly for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. Ahead of the 2018 season, McLaren technical director Tim Goss said the team prioritised making the characteristics of the 2018 car amenable.
Goss said, “So much of producing a great F1 car these days is giving the driver a car that they can exploit. There is no point in giving them a car with very peaky performance. What we are trying to do is give the driver something that operates very well over a broad operating envelope.”
According to him, McLaren took that approach as an interpretation the new aerodynamic regulations last year. He continued, “Initially we are not worried about what level of performance we are going to put on the car. What we wanted to do was understand the flow physics and try to get good, well-behaved aerodynamics across the range of the operating envelope of yaw/steer/roll and ride-height. And only when we did that and we were happy that we had well-behaved aerodynamics did we start to build the performance.
McLaren opted to not compensate for Honda’s lack of straightline performance with a low-drag 2017 design or set-ups. Instead the focus was on giving the driver something they can trust and work with. Even trimming a bit of downforce was not doing the trick. The goal was to always go for the quickest laptime and qualify as possible. However, in some races that was extremely difficult.
Goss also said, “We improved the car quite considerably around the Hungarian GP, had a great race in Hungary and then got to Belgium and just went backwards. We went backwards not because of our laptime but because we had zero ability to defend in a straight line. That period of Belgium/Italy was immensely frustrating because we knew we had car performance but we couldn’t defend. We are here to win races and win championships and with the car the approach we take is to design around success. Rather than put sticking plasters to try to cope with the fact that we had an underpowered engine, what we really wanted to do is develop the best car and assume the engine is going to come.”